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Fuel-Saving Tips for Driving a Rental Truck

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Though renting a truck for your move may seem like a more cost-effective option than hiring full-service movers, fuel expenses can have a significant effect on your budget. A large, heavy vehicle like a moving truck burns up a lot of gas, and if you are traveling a long distance, you will want to conserve as much as possible. Most truck rental agencies require you to return the truck with the tank half-full (which is usually the amount in the tank when you take the truck), so even if you are traveling only 20 miles, you will have to replenish what you have used.

The following tips will help you be mindful of your driving habits that contribute to lowered gas mileage and conserve fuel to save money on your move.

Drive slow

Fast driving burns gasoline quicker--it can actually lower your gas mileage by 33 percent when driving at highway speeds and by 5 percent cruising around town. While it depends on the vehicle, driving above 50 miles per hour will rapidly decrease your gas mileage. For every five miles over 50, you can estimate losing a quarter per gallon of gas.

To save gas, monitor your speed carefully and always stay under the posted legal limit. Unlawful speeding will only cost you more money if you get a ticket!

Keep your load light

This is quite a difficult tactic when you are driving a truck full of everything you own. However, purging your unnecessary belongings before your move can help you save money in a myriad of ways--you'll need less packing supplies, you may be able to rent a smaller truck, and you will burn less fuel during your trip. Every 100 pounds can decrease your miles per gallon by about 2 percent.

Before you move, sort through your belongings and determine which items are essential and which are useless junk. Once you have designated what possessions you can part with, decide what can be sold, what you wish to donate, and what should simply be thrown away or recycled.

Keep a steady speed

While driving fast is always bad for gas mileage, constant speed changing is inefficient as well. Frequent acceleration, braking, and stop-and-go driving will wreak havoc on your gas mileage. The best method is to keep a consistent speed by taking routes without many stop lights or traffic. Use cruise control to monitor your speed and keep it steady throughout your trip, remembering to resist the urge to travel at high speeds on freeways.

Close your windows

Leaving your windows down causes drag on your vehicle--meaning it makes the truck work harder to maintain speed. Driving with the windows open can decrease your gas mileage up to 10 percent. Though letting the wind blow through your hair and blasting music may make your move more enjoyable, it will certainly contribute to your high gas bill.

Use A/C sparingly

Keeping the windows closed and turning off the air-conditioner may not be feasible if you are moving during the hot summer months. If you do flick on the A/C, remember that it puts increased strain on your engine and can decrease your fuel efficiency by up to 20 percent. Try not to leave it running for long periods of time, instead switching it on briefly until the truck cools down, and then shutting it off for awhile.

TIP: if you have to choose between rolling down the windows and using the air-conditioning, open windows will burn about 10 percent less gas than the A/C.

Don't idle

If you let the truck idle for extended periods of time, you are uselessly burning gas. Excessive idling can waste between a quarter to a half gallon of fuel per hour, depending on the size of your engine. Always remember to turn off the truck's engine when you are parked or making stops.

Ask questions during inspection

Before you rent the truck, you should have to participate in an inspection to log any current damage to the vehicle and sign a document to ensure you won't be held liable. During this process, ask questions about the truck's maintenance to ensure it is in good condition. Low fluid levels, dirty air filters and poor tire pressure can all contribute to decreased gas mileage. Verify that the truck has been recently serviced and everything is up-to-par before signing the contract.

Nicole La Capria  Posted by Nicole La Capria on February 7, 2014

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